Patients on hemodialysis (HD) and renal transplant recipients (RT) have a high prevalence of HCV infection. The aim of our study was to determine the prevalence of HCV-RNA in the anti-HCV positive patients and to compare the biochemical parameters of PCR(+) and PCR(−) subgroups. Methods: The 525 sera were screened for anti-HCV. HCV-RNA was detected by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and liver enzymes [SGOT, SGPT, GGT, α-glutathione S-transferase (GST)] were measured. Results: Active viraemia was found only in 187 of 289 (65%) seropositive HD patients in contrast to 53 of 53 (100%) of seropositive RT patients. Significantly increased (p<0.05) GST values (9.9 μg/l) were found in the PCR(+) subgroups compared to GST levels (2.7 μg/l) of the PCR(−) subgroups. Elevated GST concentration was found in 80% (208/251) of PCR(+) patients. The measured enzymes were not elevated in HCV infected patients. Six percent of HD and 11% of RT patients were screened before seroconversion. Diagnostic sensitivity (80%) and specificity (79%) of GST were calculated as good for early liver damage caused by HCV. In contrast, the sensitivity of the measurement of other liver enzymes were very weak (SGOT: 8%; SGPT: 10%; GGT: 42%). Conclusion: The significantly higher viraemia of the RT subgroup could be related to the immunosuppressive therapy. Increased GST level may be a useful indicator of tissue damage during HCV infection. If HCV infection is suspected, PCR and GST measurement should be performed, even if anti-HCV result is negative.
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